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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Epistemology, or Oh, You Think You Know Everything

What’s with everything changing all the time? Roads are detoured, U.S. currency looks different from day to day, my pants are inexplicably shrunken in the wash…

Could we all just sit still for a moment?!

Remember when nothing seemed to change? When green was your favorite color, when you knew that there was no way that you would ever get fat or get seriously hurt, when you knew things for a certainty because they always had been that way?

The older I get – and the more I think about things – the more convinced I become that knowledge is relative, that nothing can be known for sure, and that few things under the control of humans can be “known”.

For example, when I was little, gambling was wrong. Everyone “knew” this. I specifically remember a movie, some movie, where the police came in, raiding a poker game. I had wanted to know why they couldn’t play cards, and my parents explained to me that playing for/with money was wrong, that it was illegal, and that people who gambled were criminals. My father continued on with a speech on organized crime, prohibition, and the Kennedys, but I had already stopped listening.

But gambling illegal? Not true anymore! Gambling is okay now, have you heard? The lottery’s on the TV. There are by-the-hour daycares in casinos. Vegas is actively promoting itself as a family destination. There’s water parks and shows and buffets and hookers. Something for everyone!

Full disclosure here: I’ve only been to Vegas once. Got dreadfully lost in an unfortunate I’ll-Be-Over-Here-While-You’re-In-The-Bathroom Fiasco that netted me two hours of 3:00 a.m. fear, two marriage proposals I suspect were not sincere, one lewd proposition that I suspect was, and a stern yelling-at from the people I was eventually reunited with. I do have to say, however, that through all the trauma I was surprised by the number of people in the casinos with strollers and small children, even at 3:00 in the morning. Ding! Ding! Ding! Daddy, can I have another roll of quarters for the slots?

What does that mean, when something that used to be wrong is now right?

For instance, it used to be okay to smoke cigarettes. Everywhere. In theaters. In airplanes. In hospitals. In courthouses. In bars! I kind of miss that, the smoking-in-the-bar thing, as beer and cigarettes are truly the Fred and Ginger of the night-out dance, but that’s okay, too. Because of the smoking ban, it’s no longer necessary to wash everything that had anything to do with the smoky night before.

What’s my point? That what is okay changes from year to year, from place to place. Some changes, like fashion, are within our control – grown women with bows in their hair? Crocs? Neon-blue bras under sheer white tops? As we say in Minnesota, well, that's interesting.

And other changes, like the profane/highly entertaining cell phone conversations one sometimes overhears on the bus, are more nebulous. When did people become okay with airing their dirty laundry in public?

But I guess that’s the nature of change, isn’t it? One minute you know exactly what you’re doing, and the next minute, despite your high school education, you can’t remember the old name for Myanmar or what used to stand on that corner before they tore it down to make way for the condos.

Change. You just can’t keep up.

48 comments:

The Simple Dude said...

Indeed. At one point you couldn't even flush a toilet on TV until Archie Bunker changed that. Now we get shows like Jackass doing all kinds of unusual things with bodily fluids. Some change is better than others I guess.

Oh, and I know Myanmar... that's where that movie Top Gun was right? :)

SD
www.TheSimpleDude.com

Grant said...

Green is still my favorite color.

ICKY said...

~ 1500 years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was the center of the universe.
500 years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was flat.
And 15 minutes ago, you knew that people were alone on this planet.
Imagine what you'll know tomorrow.~
Agent K

Simply Suthern said...

I think I am going thru the change. Or maybe that was my pockets and I found some change. It's been that kinda week.

Flea said...

You hush. I love my Crocs.

Dr. Cynicism said...

Change is scary. Everyone should just stop to smell the bacon -erm, I meant roses- and then never keep going after that.

Short Poems said...

Interesting post... you have such a nice blog... great work...I liked it a lot :)
All the best
Marinela x

Oilfield Trash said...

When I read this the first thought I had was how women used to not shave their who-whos, but now it is just fine to do so.

haphazardlife said...

The point when change becomes really weird is when it becomes a "the world is going to hell" thing. Next thing you know you're shrinking in the wash. I don't wanna shrink!!!

- Jazz

Big Fat Gini said...

I do not embrace change (I also don't embrace hope, but you know that's probably another subject for a different day).

I'm kind of bitter you mentioned Crocs, too.

Sweet Cheeks said...

LOL@ Icky!

Gambling wasn't a big deal when I was a child. Of course, I lived in New York at the time. Let's just say I had several friends who's families were very well off financially and it wasn't exactly clear what their dad's 'did' for a living - if you know what I mean.
Fugetaboudit...I was told...Don't ask...just accept.

Scary times.
=]

Pat Tillett said...

I think it boils down to one thing...
Earthlings are stupid!

Douglas said...

You are too young, of course, to remember this bumper sticker quote:

"Remember when sex was dirty and the air was clean?"

Well, the air wasn't really clean when sex was dirty but you get the concept. And sex wasn't really dirty unless you were at the beach and then sand got into everything.

Life is change. C'est la vie. The only thing we can do is get older until even that isn't an option.

And, for the record, I like Vegas. But I agree it was better when it wasn't a family destination.

Ok, I feel better now.

Eva Gallant said...

You are so right. Though I'm not sure all changes are!

Jhon Baker said...

Ah, yes, change - progressive regression - I like things to change, it keeps everything interesting.
and do you mind?? this link...
http://willfulresemblance.blogspot.com/2011/01/poem-for-no-reason.html
it's on topic. I assure you, and not just self promotion.

alwaysinthebackrow said...

Just for the record, I wouldn't mind shrinking a little, myself.
But you are right. Changes are going on, and they are going on faster than ever. Or, maybe as we get older, we just notice them more than we did when we were kids. Me, I don't like a lot of fast change. Loose change would be okay, though.

Nezzy said...

Shoot take it, I remember when a married couple could not be shown in the same bed on TV. All the shows had twin bed in the bedroom.

Life is funny. I have friends who think it is a sin to go to a movie theater but will buy, rent or watch the same movies on TV. What goes there???

Great post sweetie!!! :o)

I'm old so I seen many, many changes.

Enjoy your day and may it be filled with rich blessings!!!

Kittie Howard said...

A lovely post that balances food for thought. I love my microwave, computer, flat screen tv, Kindle, the air bags in my car, nutrition labels on food (I used to think those cheese/cracker packets had few calories, HA!), like my house alarm system that keeps my changes in my house. I went to school with a kid who lost his eyesight when someone in a passing car threw an orange out the window. Change hadn't yet come along for shatterproof glass. But kids in a casino at 3:00 a.m. - no, just NO! English laced with profanity everywhere - NO! Teen moms on reality tv - NO NO!

jabblog said...

'All change!' as the conductor said to the passengers . . .

Roses said...

Don't mind me.

I'm just going to sit here quietly.

I'll wait for the next big thing; which, by the way the world is going, will mean I'll be back in style in about 15 years time.

Macy said...

They allow children in casinos at Vegas???

I don't remember KIDS in Ocean's Eleven ... *slopes off to check DVD collection*

KleinsteMotte said...

Well quantum law in physics sure had an impact and so has the micro chip and nano tech but more is yet to come. Getting to know how our brain works and how to get us to increase our memory is now being studies with vigour. How are we to behave with all these changes? Roll with it with a smile if it helps make something better.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

And not all of it's good change, is it?

Jinksy said...

If we didn't keep changing, we'd all be dead...

becca said...

some dys i want to stop time and just enjoy what is

Su said...

Something I've noticed about the public airing of dirty laundry: It's interesting that people will desperately cling to their right to do/say whatever they want, while at the same time clinging to their right to not be "offended" by someone else doing/saying what they want. I just want to sit the whole country down & explain that you can't have it both ways.

Also, my mother gives directions by saying, "You turn left at the old Wal-Mart, then right where the Dairy Queen used to be, there was a field next to that but now it's an office..." and so on. Which really confuses my husband who didn't grow up in our little down and has no idea where things *used* to be.

Sausage Fingers said...

Burma baby Burma, disco inferno...
Sorry I am hammered at work..

Mandy's Kidding said...

I'm awfully fond of the right to vote, so I'll humble myself and accept change as it comes.

The Vegetable Assassin said...

Change is generally a good thing except when they're messing with my lovely nostalgic memories of the past or limiting our freedoms. Sadly, freedom limitation seems to be on the rise in the USA. Pretty soon the government will be reading your correspondence and monitoring your every move and censoring the news. Oh wait! They already do. Ha.

Give me good change. More freedom to not be tied to a fixed address if I want to travel in my camper or say exactly what I want about who I want in public if I feel like it or not to be stuck in a giant, radiation fueled full body scanner in the airport.

Gosh I got all serious and ranty there Pearl. Time for meds. :)

Bambam said...

"beer and cigarettes are truly the Fred and Ginger of the night-out dance" ... that is excellent Pearl!

Some changes are good, some are bad, but I think the worst thing that has changed is that people take no responsibility for their own actions any more. Everything is always someone else's fault.

HumorSmith said...

Damn! Parts of that were so funny I epistemologized all over myself laughing.

Glen said...

Pearl - you have left me with no choice at all I'm afraid... I have awarded you a thingemy bobby - if you want it - come get it ... http://www.glenslife.com/2011/01/writing-hard.html

Lazarus said...

Pearl, sorry, I didn't realize that was you in Vegas, I take it back. I didn't really have a live octopus back in my room anyway, so you were just as well off saying no!

Shawn said...

Wait how did I get here? I remember someone saying lick this paper and then wash it down with this. Then all black......hmmm.

Cool post
Shawn

FreeFlying said...

"One lewd proposition that I suspect was" made me laugh out loud.

I kind of like everyone airing their dirty laundry now. It's like mobile t.v.

Susan in the Boonies said...

You had me at "pants that are inexplicably shrunken in the wash". WHAT IS UP WITH THAT???? Also, how scary my reflection has become in the car window when I'm outside in direct sunlight. Those sags, blotches and wrinkles. WHAT IS THAT ALL ABOUT???

Things can quit changing at any point, now.....

Susan in the Boonies said...

P.S. Didn't you get your epistemology when your son tore something on his way out of your hoohah many years ago? I know I did, with mine. :-D

On My Soapbox said...

Sometimes change is good. Sometimes it isn't. Examples: Good: cell phones. Bad: talking loudly on cell phones in public places. Good: wider variety of acceptable clothing. Bad: wearing pajamas in public.

Jenn Jilks said...

Interesting essay!

I've often looked at my 80-something hospice clients and found that they were pretty depressed with the way of the world.
They'd learned to live with so many new things, but lost their friends, family, and the world has so changed for them.
It is food for thought.

Leenie said...

Confession: I didn't read any of your hundreds of admiring fans' comments although they are probably ALMOST as eriodite (sp?) as yours. I just wonder what all this has to do with an episiotomy---what? what? epistemology? OH--never mind.

Andrew Green said...

The cigarette thing really amazes me....
I'm only 31, and I remember smoking, like, ANYWHERE when I was 16, and no one ever said anything. now, you can't even smoke in a hotel room without a SWAT team breaking down the door.

You make many good points.

lgsquirrel said...

I'm still poor. When does this change thing happen?

Tempo said...

Green was never my fav color.. Youre not even allowed to smoke in your own car now, if you have kids you can and will be charged with child abuse. I grew up in a time when we boys all wanted to be the high riding Marlbrough Man!

the walking man said...

Burma...and the same crap is still standing on the corner that was there fifty years ago, only now it's a hulk and burned out. But that is change for you 2 dimes, a nickle, 2 quarters and, 25 pennies still make a buck.

Chez said...

Definitely worth a 'thingemy bobby' from Glen..

River said...

I don't mind some changes, as long as they don't affect me too much. What does annoy me is our public transportation system here in Adelaide South Australia. Every year the routes and timetables are switched around, so the bus you've become familiar with no longer goes to the same place or doesn't run at all, so we have to get new timetables and check up on things. This year the bus numbers were changed as well, so instead of catching a 102 bus into the city, I now have to catch a H30. Goodness knows how the elderly keep up.

IndigoWrath said...

Oh, don't get me started on crocs.

Casey Freeland said...

So well said! Yeah, you can't keep up. Don't even try. The trick is not to seem surprised as you learn how much has changed.

Cheers,

Casey